Glastonbury 2011: The Televisual Round Up

by - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Now, I love festivals as much as the next person, (in fact, probably a fair bit more than the next person), and in my opinion, nothing quite beats the atmosphere and sense of camaraderie you feel when you’re part of an enormous crowd, roaring back the lyrics at your favourite band. But when the BBC do such a thorough job of covering such an extensive event as this year’s Glastonbury, I don’t think there is any shame in pitching up on the sofa mud free, and enjoying all the music without having to run between stages. With that in mind, here is my round up of my thoughts from the highlights I managed to catch across the BBC, Red Button and Online:

Mumford & Sons
It seems to be that Mumford and Sons have found their spiritual home at Glastonbury- the crowd were cheering each and every time there was even a slight pause in guitars, to frontman Marcus Mumford’s evident glee. They perhaps still look like hipster geography teachers, but does it really matter when they can stir up such a response? It takes some power as a band to fill such a massive stage as the pyramid with the gentle likes of “Timshel”, but they pulled it off with aplomb.

Biffy ClyroArguably, the band with the best stage uniform of modern times (Simon Neil sporting only a pair of grey trousers and bright pink high tops), Biffy Clyro always put on a good show, but pesky sound problems appeared to be an issue: on television at least, the crowd seemed rather stationary past the first few rows. However, this didn’t stop them thrashing through the hits including “Bubbles”, “That Golden Rule” and of course “Many of Horror”, their new touring guitarist a welcome asset. As a bonus point, the band also seemed like nice chaps in their post gig interview, which hopefully bodes well for us at Love Music News when we attend their DVD premiere on Thursday.

Tinie TempahThere’s something a little bit special about the 22 year old rapper born Patrick Okogwu. In fact, Tinie Tempah was one of the biggest draws of the weekend. His show is always well put together with a very talented band, and this was no exception, hits such as “Miami To Ibiza” and album highlight “Simply Unstoppable” getting even the casual fans at the back bouncing along, powerless to his contagious smile( almost as wide as the pyramid stage itself.)

Friendly Fires
Friendly Fires are always a festival favourite – in fact; it appears they’ve orchestrated their whole career around summer touring and album releases. New album “Pala” has spawned them even more festival anthems, most notably in the triumphant “Hawaiian Air”, which heralded the appearance of a troupe of hula dancers, rivalled only by the always entertaining moves exhibited by vocalist Ed MacFarlane. Always a pleasure, the set bought cowbells aplenty, a mess of lurid shirts and some very happy fans.

Quite admirably for a band with such an extensive career behind them, it seems nobody is more appreciative of their position than Elbow. Throughout their set they seemed genuinely enamoured with the crowd, even dedicating a song to festival co-organiser Emily Eavises’ new baby, and imploring the security staff to pass more water to the thirsty crowd. They have become a definite part of the Glastonbury furniture, Guy Garvey distinctive and lulling voice staying strong throughout “Lippy Kids”, “The Bones of You” and of course, climaxing with “One Day Like This”, a definite contender for the best festival anthem of all time.
Noah And The Whale
Following up the beautifully depressing “The First Days Of Spring” with the infinitely more lively “Last Night On Earth”, Noah and the whale have really come on leaps and bounds since the last festival season. Each song sounds joyous and upbeat, enticing carefree singsongs from the crowd at large. The band themselves seem a lot happier and more technically proficient: fan favourite “5 Years’ Time” in particular has grown impressively into the jewel of their live crown.

Janelle Monae
It's immensely refreshing to see somebody like Janelle Monae attracting such a huge crowd. Herein lies the true spirit of Glastonbury; stepping out of the stereotype of rock bands to simply expose the new, innovative and exciting. She really is offering something new with her perky girl group harmonies, androgynous glamour and energetic dancing, “Tightrope” in particular being a highlight. Expect a mainstream invasion from her any time soon.

Wild BeastsThe only band of the festival that I experienced only by radio rather than television, I think it is an accolade to this Kendall four piece that they became one of my highlights without even seeing them play. The fantastical love affair between the voices of Tom Fleming and Hayden Thorpe was on spellbinding form, lending little need for talk in between songs. Tracks from new album “Smother” are now amongst their live best, “Bed of Nails” and “Deeper” sounding particularly sultry. A delight.

You know the mark of a worthy headliner when they can afford to play some of their biggest singles so early in a set. Coldplay’s entire set was nothing short of a celebration from the off, “Viva La Vida” and “Clocks” sparking the biggest crowd response of the weekend. In actual fact, it has been reported that of the 175,000 in attendance at Glastonbury, 135,000 were in front of the pyramid to worship at the altar of Chris Martin, which is no mean feat. “The Scientist” sounds as wistful and heart-breaking as ever, only aided in dramaticism in the cascading confetti and fireworks that surround the stage. Culminating in the joyous new single “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”, this third Glastonbury headline appearance was head and shoulders about any of their previous sets.

Bombay Bicycle Club
Either the sound levels at the Other Stage are better than at the daytime Pyramid Stage, or Bombay Bicycle Club are technically fantastic. I’m tempted to go for the latter, as they unassumingly turn up and rip straight into “Magnet”, comfortably following it with summery newbie “Shuffle”. In fact, each of the new songs slot in perfectly, aided by the vocal styling’s of long time BBC collaborator Lucy Rose, celebrating the sunshine in a manner set to continue for the rest of their touring summer. Expect great things from their third album “A Different Kind Of Fix”, due for release in late August.

Queens of the Stone Age
Josh Homme is one cool, cool man and could probably thrill a crowd in his sleep. Chock full of guitar solos to the point of lunacy, QOTSA are really at the top of their game. Giving back to the fans by allowing them to choose the set list online prior to the festival, they tore through the likes of “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer” and “Go With The Flow”, via the smooth grooves of “Make It With Chu” and the abrasive rock of “Little Sister”. Dirty bass never sounded better.

BeyoncéLet's face it, the woman is some sort of gift sent from the gods. In my eyes anybody blessed with that beauty, voice and ability to dance demands respect, and she did a fabulous job in bringing such glamour to what was clearly an environment nothing like anything she’s seen before. Following an explosive entrance in the form of the double whammy of “Crazy In Love” and “Single Ladies”, it could be said that the set lagged a little in the middle, but considering the sheer force of her voice on “If I Were A Boy” and the cover of Kings Of Leon’s “Sex On Fire”, I think this can be overlooked. Highlights turned out to be the extended jam of “Why Don’t You Love Me and the Destiny’s Child medley. We may have been slightly short changed on the special guests and costume changes, but if anything, this just goes to prove Beyoncé’s strength as a solo artist, especially considering she is the first female artist to headline the pyramid in over 20 years. Much to the audience’s pleasure, she topped it off with a spine tingling “Halo”. A memorable end to a fantastic festival.

The Best of the Rest
Jessie J – Displaying her incredible talent by having to sit down throughout due to an injury, Jessie won the crowd over by bringing up a very brave 7 year old from the crowd to help her sing “Pricetag”, a definite contender for “warm fuzzy glow” of the weekend.

Ed Sheeran – Entertaining huge crowds at each of his eight performances across the weekend, young Ed has got a massive summer ahead of him and is undoubtedly going to draw even bigger crowds if he keeps up his inspired cover of Adele/ Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”.

Pendulum - The Aussie gang seem to have developed in style since the last festival season, adding a few new instruments to make their sound less ‘in your face’ and more melodic, demonstrated excellently on “The Island.”

The Streets – With their split impending, Mike Skinner and co put their all into a raucous set, including a mashup of “Blinded by the Lights” featuring snippets of Katy B’s “Katy On A Mission”.

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